Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Netanyahu is probably the first leader in the West to mention the Mahdi

 Power invigorates.

That must be the reason Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appeared extremely chipper Sunday afternoon, during a 30-minute pre-Rosh Hashana interview with The Jerusalem Post.

Just a month after Operation Protective Edge, in the midst of a percolating political crisis both within his party and in his coalition, as Iran, Islamic State and Hezbollah are either near or at the gates, one would think there would be signs of strain and fatigue on the prime minister’s face, extreme agitation in his demeanor.

But when Netanyahu met with the Post in his Jerusalem office just an hour or so after a budgetary meeting with Finance Minister Yair Lapid that did not produce an agreement, he looked – counter-intuitively – as fresh and relaxed as if he had just left the gym and was ready to start a promising new day.

“How are you doing?” I asked innocuously on entering.

“Good,” he replied. “Really, very good.” His jaunty manner, surprisingly, did not belie his words, leaving this guest wondering how – with everything going on in the region and in his coalition, and with the fate of the Jewish people resting on his shoulders – he could claim to be doing “good.”

But then you hear him talk, and it starts to make sense.

Having now spent nearly nine years as prime minister, without a serious political challenger anywhere on the horizon, Netanyahu is a man who feels not only confident, but vindicated. He is looking out at the world with a barely suppressible I-told-you-so attitude.

Netanyahu is a leader who feels he has correctly predicted the future, often going very much against the grain to do so.

He accurately foresaw the disastrous consequences that would follow the 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip; he predicted the Arab Spring would not – as the Thomas Friedmans of the world gushed – give birth to “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité” in the Arab world; and he pushed hard, and successfully, for tough economic sanctions against Iran, saying this would have a significant impact on the country.

He also feels vindicated by the recent Gaza operation – that it proves to all the absolute necessity of the security requirements he has so long demanded from the Palestinian Authority, before signaling a willingness to withdraw from any additional territory .

“I call it like I see it,” he said, clearly relishing that role, even if it means needing to “punch through the rising tide of political correctness.”

Political correctness, and – he could have added – “conventional wisdom.”

Conventional wisdom holds that coming out of Operation Protective Edge, now is the time for Israel – with its image tarnished in much of the world – to put forward a daring new diplomatic initiative, if not necessarily to pave the path to an elusive peace agreement, then at least to “change the atmosphere.”

Netanyahu isn’t buying.

Those hoping to see a bold new Israeli diplomatic push will be disappointed.

What is needed now instead, he said, is to “create the equation between our battle against Hamas, and the West’s battle against ISIS [Islamic State].” And as the West continues to battle Islamic State, more and more people will come to understand the true nature of the Islamic threat on Israel’s porch, something that “will help alleviate some of the criticism that is leveled against Israel.”

Maybe yes, maybe no. But Netanyahu harbors no doubts. Ticking off some of his previous forecasts that turned out to be correct, Netanyahu asked, “Who turned out to be right?” Power invigorates. So too, it seems, does a sense of vindication.

In the Rosh Hashana message you taped, you spelled out five challenges facing Israel in this order: Islamic State, Hamas, al-Qaida, Hezbollah and Iran. Which of those, in your mind, is the biggest immediate danger to Israel? 

The biggest threat without question is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons, which means Iran.

That is the biggest immediate threat?

It is the biggest immediate, medium and long-term threat to Israel, and to the world. Militant Islamists… have global ambitions. Not only ambitions to dominate the Middle East, but also warped ambitions to impose their horrible creed on the entire world.

There is no room for the infidels. No room for Jews, Christians, or secularists.

There is no liberty for women, who are treated as chattel, or for gays, or for minorities who are persecuted or annihilated altogether.

That is a terrible danger as it is, but it would become intolerable if these movements – or the regimes on which they are based, or the terrorists they field – have weapons of mass destruction.

Imagine ISIS [Islamic State] with chemical weapons, or with nuclear weapons. This is effectively what you would have with Iran, which is governed by an Islamic militancy that knows no bounds.

This is a great threat for the world, but first of all a great threat to us. Because we are the outpost of the civilization they abhor so much and wish to wipe off the face of the earth. They say as much. They mean it, and I take them at their word.

Iran said it is willing to join the fight against ISIS if the West shows more flexibility in the nuclear negotiations, specifically on the number of centrifuges they can retain.

How big of a concern is that for you? 

That in itself is an absurd claim. Iran fights ISIS because of its own internal dispute over who will rule the Islamic world they want to impose.

For them, the battle against ISIS is derived from that.

It is the same thing with [Syrian President Bashar] Assad and Hezbollah. They fight ISIS for the same reason – because it is in their own interest. Suppose Assad would say, “I’ll fight ISIS if you give me chemical weapons back.” What would you say to that? It’s about as logical as the absurd claim that is now being made by Iran.

They fight ISIS anyway, and should not be rewarded with weapons of mass destruction.

To arm a militant regime like Iran with nuclear weapons is folly in itself, but to do so in order for them to fight what they are going to fight anyway is a double folly.

Does the West understand that?

I hope so. I do.

You’ve said over and over that ISIS is Hamas, and Hamas is ISIS, that they are both different branches of the same poisonous tree. This has not been accepted in the world. For instance, the US State Department spokeswoman said recently there is no comparison.

There are minor differences, to be sure. One wants to impose an Islamic caliphate, the other wants to impose the Mahdi [prophesied redeemer of Islam]’s return. One wants to return to the 11th century, the other to a 9th-century regime. There are other differences, but they are tactical.

The larger shared ambition is regional and ultimately global domination with no observance of human rights, pluralism or democracy, but rather the espousal of violence against their own people and everyone else.

As far as getting the message across about the similarity of the shared nature of the militant Islamists and what they represent, I think that message is getting through.

I have had long experience putting forward certain conceptions about fighting terrorism or airline hijackings, or putting sanctions on Iran or opening up our economy for competition, and many other causes and concepts that I’ve espoused that initially received the cold shoulder, but which over time more and more people accepted as self-evident truths.

They are not self-evident, but have to be punched through the rising tide of political correctness. That has never daunted me; I call it like I see it.

If you don’t identity a threat correctly, If you don’t diagnose the disease correctly, you are unlikely to treat it correctly.

And this is the first step in addressing this threat now endangering the entire world.

Is the world correctly diagnosing this threat?

It is beginning to. I’m not sure it is quite there yet, but it is moving in that direction – and that is something that we should help advance. The ones who see it best are actually many of our Arab neighbors.

They see it best; they see it clearly.

Indirect talks with Hamas are due to start tomorrow in Cairo. The presumption is that we are going to ask to keep Hamas from rearming, and prevent the demilitarization of Gaza. They are going to ask for things in return as well. What are you willing to give them? 

If they don’t rearm and there is a mechanism for demilitarization, would you be willing to give them a seaport?

I’ve said more than once, that when Gaza is demilitarized and abandons the goal of destroying Israel, we are open to considering anything.

But that presumes the pacification of Gaza and the espousal of peace. That has always been our position. We don’t oppose a seaport in any Arab country.

I say that as an understatement; that is not an issue.

The real issue is whether we can ensure Israel’s vital security interests, and enable the reconstruction of Gaza and humanitarian assistance under our security requirements.

That, I think, will be the focus of what will be discussed, and certainly the focus of our current policies.

Why continue to do it indirectly? If everyone knows we are talking to Hamas, only doing it through the Egyptians, why not just cut out the middle man?

I think there is a big difference between these talks and political negotiations. That’s why I made sure the delegation is composed of security people.

It wasn’t happenstance, it was by deliberate design.

Often in situations of war, and even in the war against terrorism, you deal with sworn enemies through intermediates on certain matters of security, cease-fires or other matters.

Otherwise, there would never be a cease-fire. You always have to deal with someone, but you want to make sure that you don’t accord people who are committed to the war of terror against us any kind of political recognition.

This is the right policy.

What we want to make sure is that we go through the Egyptian channel, in order to secure Israel’s vital security interests. We are not going beyond that point into any kind of political negotiations with Hamas.

In your press conference on the day after the Gaza operation, you said there is presently a “reorganization” of forces in the Middle East creating a “possible diplomatic horizon for Israel that holds within it new possibilities for our state.” That’s a great statement, but amorphous.

Can you put any meat on that? What does that mean?

If you want to put any meat on that, don’t go beyond that publicly. If you want to do something that is not for the next headline, but to go somewhere, you want to explore whether the growing recognition of common challenges in the region can also translate itself into sharing the burden for peace among regional partners.

That is a delicate process.

Certainly a discrete process, and it remains to be seen whether we have such partners.

It is too early to say.

Would you be willing to accept the Saudi peace initiative now? 

The question is not the Saudi peace initiative. If you read it carefully, you’ll see it was set up in another period: before the rise of Hamas; before Hamas took over Gaza; before ISIS took over chunks of Syria and Iraq, effectively dismantling those countries; before Iran’s accelerated nuclear program; before the takeover of Syria by al-Qaida on the Golan Heights.

Is it now irrelevant? 

What is relevant, I think, is the fact that there is a new recognition among major countries in the Middle East that Israel is not their mortal enemy, to say the least, but a potential ally in addressing the common challenges. And whether we can translate that recognition of a political horizon into a peace proposal – a realistic peace proposal – is something worth exploring.

But I don’t think more can be said at this point.

But I will say that it has to be realistic. We pursue peace without ever disconnecting our wishes from our senses, from what we see around us.

You cannot pursue peace with a complete detachment to the reality around us. I never do.

I think the sober, responsible and careful approach has proven the correct one.

People say all the time, “Why don’t you take the plunge?” I think people are very lucky I didn’t take the plunge. The plunge we took in Gaza produced an Iranian proxy state in which thousands of rockets have been fired on Israeli cities, which has become a terrorist bastion that is poised like a dagger against the heart of Israel.

Some people celebrated.

I didn’t. I resigned from the government when that decision was finally made. And I warned about many of the things that came to pass.

At the time I was accused of being unimaginative, of being a doomsayer. I was completely realistic. In fact, the people who irresponsibly charged ahead proved to be wrong, we turned out to be right.

The same is true of the so-called Arab Spring. Everyone had the Pollyannaish view that the forces of liberal democracy would take over the entire Arab world. I cautioned them it was at least as equally possible – I said this as an understatement – that the forces that would come to the fore would be Islamists. Who turned out to be right? In this environment, you have to be sober and open to changes. The change that is evident is the realignment against the three sources of Islamic terrorism that threaten the Middle East: one led by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt; the second by the various branches of al-Qaida and its offshoots, including Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS; and the third by the Shit’tes, the radical Shi’ites led by Iran with its Hezbollah proxies.

We can explore the possibilities for cooperation, not only to resist those forces but to establish a peace we can defend. But, as I say, we should do that carefully and responsibly.

Is that exploration happening now? 

I think it is worth exploring, but I cannot tell you we have crossed the divide. Everything that I’ve been speaking about [in the past] in terms of Israel’s security needs in a potential peace agreement with the Palestinians has become sharply more evident after our experience in Gaza.

We walked out of Gaza and were promised this would open the way for a broader peace, and instead it was the very opposite: rockets, terror tunnels, unmanned aerial vehicles; ground, naval and air assaults on Israel. We don’t want that to happen again. Therefore, our security requirements, as well as the idea that on the opposite side of any potential border you have an entity that wants to live with you and not destroy you, these are basic needs that have been more than borne out by our experience in Gaza.

You mentioned not wanting to take the plunge. But Israel took a hit during the Gaza operation in public opinion in the West, and it seems that to restore Israel’s standing, there will be a need to initiate something diplomatic.

I think there is a need, on the contrary, to create the equation between our battle against Hamas, and the West’s battle against ISIS.

There is a situation now where the US and many other countries are – for good reason – going to take action against ISIS. Israel took such action against an organization – Hamas – that when we started the campaign was twice the size of ISIS.

This can give people an appreciation about how determined we were to strike at them, what force we used. But even then, we used force with judiciousness. It is tough to imagine what would have happened had the situation been reversed, if they had the power we had. What would they have done? Of course we don’t use – as democracies seldom, if ever, have done since 1945 – all the power we have, because we are constrained by considerations that guide democracies. We don’t target civilians. We don’t indiscriminately flatten cities.

We don’t do that, nor – as a rule – do democracies.

Yet I think Western democracies are going to find as they fight ISIS that it will challenge them more and more, because they [ISIS] use the same tactic.

They target civilians, they hide behind civilians, and they also kill their own civilians. This is exactly analogous to what Hamas is doing.

The reason Israel was criticized in the West, besides the influence of Islamic minorities in the West and the far Left, is that some people did not understand the common nature of the battle, of the danger, that threatens all of us.

I think that as time goes by more and more will understand, and it is our task to make that even more comprehensible.

That will help alleviate some of the criticism that is leveled against Israel.

In any case, we are open to a resumption of political negotiations, but to achieve a durable and responsible peace.

That is based on two principles: recognition and security.

Recognition because you make peace only with those who are willing to make peace with you, and security because that willingness may unravel over time.

So you need very strong security arrangements on the ground, as has been clearly demonstrated in Gaza, in order to avoid the repetition of Gaza – something that I am absolutely determined to achieve.

They are signaling me our time is up, so let me ask one political question.

How do you feel now [after Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s surprise resignation last week] when you read critics saying that you are chasing away all the up-and-coming stars in the Likud Party, and you are not allowing anyone to grow in your shadow? 

You know, I have had the opportunity to be in several places around the country. To go to the beach, a number of times, to meet citizens. And I actually see the exact opposite approach.

People come up to me, and I don’t mean only Likud members – that is obvious, there is enthusiastic support there – I mean people from many other parts of the Israeli political spectrum. And they come to me and say, ‘Prime minister, we want to tell you how much we appreciate the way you led the country during the [Gaza] operation.’ I have not seen any diminution in the support for me as compared to what it was before the operation, or during the years that I have led the country, and I have not seen diminution in support for the Likud.

But won’t it hurt the Likud when Gideon Sa’ar leaves? 

Quite the contrary, I’ve seen a strong increase. That’s all I would say.


Apparently, Netanyahu is the first western leader to actually mention the Mahdi. About time! The media in the west is so reluctant to discuss Islam in general and Shia eschatology in particular that the mention of the Mahdi needed an explanation in brackets! Isn’t this just incredible? The gravest threat to Israel’s existence coming from the Twelvers’ eschatology who are willing to start a nuclear war in order to bring the Mahdi out of occultation is virtually unknown to the general public!
There is one other point, which I think I will mention if you would allow me, and that is what I would call the apocalyptic aspect.  In Islam, as in Judaism ,  as in Christianity, there is a scenario for the End of Time. When the final battle takes place between the forces of good and the forces of evil, of which for Christians, Jews and Muslims alike means between us and them, the us being differently defined and them being more or less the same. In the Muslim view, no, let me correct that, in the view of a certain section within the Iranian leadership, it is not by any means unanimous, that time is NOW. For a group called the Hujtieh whose main leader is Ahmadinejad, the apocalyptic time has come. The Mahdi, the Muslim Messiah is already here. The final battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil has already begun. 

That is extremely important for another, not immediately related reason. That is the question of Iran’s nuclear weapon. The Soviet Union had nuclear weapons right through the Cold War, but neither side used them because both sides were aware that if either one did  the other would do the same and this would lead to mutual destruction - MAD as it was known at the time. Mutual assured destruction was the main deterrent preventing the use of nuclear weapons by the Soviets   For most of the Iranian leadership MAD would work as a deterrent, but for Ahmadinejad and his group with their apocalyptic mindset mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent, it's an inducement and they believe that the End of Time has come, the final battles are already beginning  and the sooner the better, so that the good can  go and enjoy the delights of paradise and the divine brothel in the sky and the wicked, that means all of us here, will go to eternal damnation.

Monday, September 22, 2014

What Obama Knows

Every president gets things wrong. What sets Obama apart is his ideological rigidity and fathomless ignorance.

BRET STEPHENS                                                                        

Serious people feel an obligation to listen whenever Barack Obama speaks. They furrow their brow and hold their chin and parse every word. They assume that most everything a president says is significant, which is true. They assume that what's significant must also be well-informed. Not necessarily.

I've been thinking about this as it becomes clear that, even at an elementary level, Mr. Obama often doesn't know what he's talking about. It isn't so much his analysis of global events that's wrong, though it is. The deeper problem is the foundation of knowledge on which that analysis is built.
Here, for instance, is Mr. Obama answering a question posed in August by New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, who wanted the president's thoughts on the new global disorder.
"You can't generalize across the globe," the president replied. "Because there are a bunch of places where good news keeps on coming. Asia continues to grow . . . and not only is it growing but you're starting to see democracies in places like Indonesia solidifying."
"The trend lines in Latin America are good," he added. "Overall, there's still cause for optimism."
Here, now, is reality: In Japan, the economy is contracting. China's real-estate market is a bubble waiting to burst. Indonesia's democracy may be solidifying, but so is Islamism and the persecution of religious minorities. Democracy has been overthrown in Thailand. The march toward freedom in Burma—supposedly one of Mr. Obama's (and Hillary Clinton's ) signature diplomatic victories—has stalled. India may do better than before under its new prime minister, Narendra Modi, but gone are the days when serious people think of India as a future superpower. The government of Pakistan is, as ever, on the verge of collapse.

As for Latin America, Argentina just defaulted for the second time in 13 years. Brazil is in recession. Venezuela is a brutal dictatorship. Ecuador is well on its way to becoming one.
I begin with these examples not because there aren't bright spots in Asia (South Korea is one) or Latin America (Colombia is another) but because it's so typically Obama. Warn against generalization—and then generalize. Cite an example—but one that isn't representative. Talk about a trend line—but get the direction of the trend wrong.
Next example: Turkey. In 2009 Mr. Obama decided to elevate Turkey and its prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as his core partner in the Middle East. "On issue after issue we share common goals," he told the Turkish parliament in April 2009. In 2012 he said that he and Mr. Erdogan had developed "bonds of trust."
Yet in 2009 it was already clear that Mr. Erdogan was orchestrating huge show trials against his political opponents based on outlandish charges. By 2010 it was clear that he was an avowed supporter of Hamas, not to mention a vocal anti-Semite. In 2012 the Committee to Protect Journalists noted that Turkey had more journalists in prison than China and Iran put together.
Now turn to Yemen. In 2012, after the Arab Spring, the president singled out Yemen as a model for a prospective political transition in Syria. Mr. Obama was at it again just two weeks ago, citing the fight against al Qaeda in Yemen as the model for the war he intends to wage against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Whoops. "Over the weekend," noted McClatchy's Adam Baron on Monday, "the growing gap between administration rhetoric and reality came to a head, as the acerbically anti-American Houthi rebels—who American diplomats allege have close financial and military ties with Iran—took control of many areas of the capital, Sanaa, with minimal resistance from the U.S.-supplied Yemeni armed forces."
Keep going around the world. He declared victory over al Qaeda and dismissed groups such as ISIS as "the jayvee team" at the very moment that al Qaeda was roaring back. He mocked the notion of Russia being our enemy—remember the line about the 1980s wanting "its foreign policy back"?—just as Russia was again becoming our enemy.
He predicted in 2012 that "Assad's days are numbered" just as the Syrian dictator was turning the tide of war in his favor. He defended last November's nuclear deal with Tehran, saying "it's not going to be hard for us to turn the dials back or strengthen sanctions even further" in the event that diplomacy failed. In reality, as the Foundation for Defense of Democracies notes, "burgeoning trade ties with Turkey, increased oil sales to China, and reports of multibillion-dollar Russian-Iranian trade deals, not yet consummated but in the offing, are giving [Iran] a 'Plan B' escape hatch."
Every administration tries to spin events its way; every president gets things wrong. Mr. Obama is not exceptional in those respects. Where he stands apart is in his combination of ideological rigidity and fathomless ignorance. What does the president know? The simple answer, and maybe the truest, is: not a lot.
Write to

So now what? We have a US president who is fathomlessly ignorant. It took six years for Americans to realize this. How long will it take them to understand the dire consequences  of this fathomless ignorance? Obama's appeasement of Iran - Iran with nuclear weapons!? 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Ayaan Hirsi Ali at Yale

Ayaan Hirsi Ali starts her speech at 10:15 into the video. 

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: "If you look at the flag of Saudi Arabia and you look at the flag of the Islamic State you will see differences in color and differences in the font, but what you see when you read the letters is the confession to be a Muslim la ilaha illallah Muhammadur Rasulullah there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet or his Messenger. Saudi Arabia underscores that with a sword. How can they represent peace? Why are Muslims not demanding answers from them?" 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Rouhani is deceiving the ignorant West on Islam, just like Obama did in his 2009 Cairo speech

Rouhani told Curry, “From the viewpoint of the Islamic tenets and culture, killing an innocent people equals the killing of the whole humanity. And therefore, the killing and beheading of innocent people in fact is a matter of shame for them and it’s the matter of concern and sorrow for all the human and all the mankind.”  This is exactly what Obama did in 2009 when he quoted verse 5:32 and omitted verse 5:33.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s trip to New York next week will be a welcome relief for the Iranian leader. Finally, he’ll be somewhere where he’s appreciated, even loved.

Ahead of his trip to America, the US media continued its practice of presenting Rouhani as a moderate, and a natural ally for the US.

NBC News’ Anne Curry interviewed Rouhani in Tehran, focusing her attention on his dim view of Islamic State.

Rouhani told Curry, “From the viewpoint of the Islamic tenets and culture, killing an innocent people equals the killing of the whole humanity. And therefore, the killing and beheading of innocent people in fact is a matter of shame for them and it’s the matter of concern and sorrow for all the human and all the mankind.”

The US media and political establishment’s willingness to take Rouhani at his word when he says that he’s a moderate is one of the reasons that Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz was in such a desolate mood on Wednesday.

During a briefing with the foreign media, Steinitz described the state of negotiations between the US and its negotiating partners – Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – and Iran regarding its illicit nuclear weapons program.

The briefing followed the latest round of the biennial Israeli-US strategic dialogue. Steinitz led the Israeli delegation to the talks, which focused on Iran, the week before nuclear talks were scheduled to be renewed.

One of Steinitz’s chief concerns was the US’s insistence that Rouhani is a moderate.

In his words, “The only thing that has changed [since Rouhani replaced president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] is the tone. The only difference is that the world was unwilling to hear from Ahmadinejad and [his nuclear negotiator Saeed] Jalili, what it is willing to listen to from Rouhani and [Iranian Foreign Minister Javad] Zarif.”

Unlike the Americans, the Iranian people are through with the fiction that Rouhani is a moderate, which is why he no doubt will be happier in New York than in Tehran.

Rouhani’s trip to New York coincides with his one-year anniversary in office. Since he took power, a thousand Iranians have been executed by the regime.

Forty-five people were executed in just the past two weeks.

According to Iranian scholar Majid Rafizadeh, the public’s tolerance for regime violence has reached a breaking point.

In an article in the Frontpage Magazine online journal, Rafizadeh described how 3,000 people descended on regime executioners as they were poised to kill a youth in Mahmoudabad in northern Iran. The protest forced them to call off the show.

They murdered the young man the next day, when no one was looking.

As Iran scholar Dr. Michael Ledeen has explained, the rise in regime brutality is directly proportional to the threat it perceives from the public.

And the regime has good reason to be worried.

Anti-regime protests and strikes occur countrywide, every day.

For instance, from September 9-14, MEK, an Iranian opposition group, documented public protests against security forces and attacks on regime agents in Tehran, Zanzan, Bane, Qom, Karaj and Bandar Abbas.

These actions ran the gamut from a strike by a thousand gas workers in the Aslaviyah gas fields who protested searches of their dormitory rooms by regime agents, to two separate assaults on military vehicles in Zanzan, to youth responding violently in cities throughout the country when regime agents tried to enforce Islamic dress codes on women and girls.

Under the same Rouhani who waxed so poetically against beheadings when speaking to an overeager NBC reporter, not only have state executions have massively intensified. Public floggings, public hand amputations and other public demonstrations of regime brutality have also expanded to levels unseen in recent years.

Rouhani promised to protect women’s rights. Yet since he took office, women’s rights have been severely curtailed.

Last month, the Revolutionary Guards barred women from working as waitresses. In July, Tehran’s mayor barred women from sharing workspace with men. These moves and others like them, aimed at enforcing gender apartheid in all public places in the country, force millions of women into poverty. The official unemployment level for women is already hovering around 20 percent.

Then there are Iran’s other social ills, for instance drug addiction.

Iran has the highest level of drug addiction in the world. According to Babak Dinparast, a senior Iranian drug enforcement official, some 3.5 million Iranians, or 4.4% of the population, are drug users.

In April, Dinparast made the stunning claim that 53% of drug users are government employees.

According to the Iranian parliament’s research institute, the average productive hours of Iranian workers is 22 minutes a day.

In Transparency International’s ranking of administrative and economic corruption, Iran ranks 144th out of 177 countries.

In other words, Iran is coming apart at the seams. The people cannot stand the regime. The regime, incompetent and unwilling to tackle any of Iran’s problems, responds to the public’s outrage with massive, brutal repression.

If left to its own devices, in all likelihood, the Iranian regime would have been toppled five years ago when it falsified the results of the 2009 presidential elections, and so fomented the Green Revolution But the people of Iran didn’t bet on the regime’s ace in the hole: the Obama administration.

The same Obama administration that supported the overthrow of US allies in the war on Islamic jihad – Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi – stood by the Iranian regime as it massacred its people in the streets of Iranian cities for daring to demand their freedom.

If the 2009 Green Revolution was the gravest threat the regime had faced since the 1979 revolution brought it to power, today the regime is also imperiled.

On Monday, Iran’s dictator Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was released from the hospital after undergoing prostate surgery. Several strategic analyses published since then claim that his days are numbered and that as a consequence, the regime faces a period of profound uncertainty and instability.

The Iranian people are watching all of this, and waiting.

As was the case in 2009, the disaffected Iranians, who hate their regime and want good relations with the US and the West, remain the greatest threat to the regime.

Beyond its borders, Iran is also under stress. With its Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah forces committed to Syria in defense of Bashar Assad, Iran finds its position in Iraq threatened by the rising power of Islamic State.

Yet, as happened in 2009, in the midst of this gathering storm, the Obama administration is rushing to the mullahs’ rescue, begging Iran to support US efforts to fight Islamic State, indeed claiming that securing Iran’s support and cooperation is a necessary precondition for the mission’s success.

To say that this US policy is madness is an understatement.

As Michael Weiss documented in Foreign Policy in June, Iran and its puppet, the Syrian regime, played central roles in facilitating the development and empowerment of Islamic State both in Syria and Iraq. A defector from the Syrian Military Intelligence Directorate reported in January that the regime helped form Islamic State.

First, it sprang Sunni jihadist leaders from Sednaya prison in 2011. Then, it facilitated in the creation of the armed brigades that became Islamic State.

The idea was that through Islamic State, it could tarnish the reputation of all of its opponents by claiming they were all jihadists.

US military officers with deep knowledge of Iran’s role in Iraq told Weiss that Islamic State’s leadership entered Iraq from Iran.

A key al-Qaida financier, Olimzhon Adkhamovich Sadikov, was charged in February by the US Treasury Department with “provid[ing] logistical support and funding to al-Qaida’s Iran-based network.”

US Army Col. Rick Welch, who served as the military liaison to both the Sunni tribes and the Shi’ite militia in Iraq during the 2007-2008 US military surge, told Weiss that the assessment of Iraqi Sunnis and Shi’ites alike was that “Iran was funding any group that would keep Iraq in chaos.”

Iran sought chaos in order to prevent the establishment of a stable Iraqi government allied with the US while incrementally establishing Iranian control over the country.

Iran’s actions in Iraq and Syria, in other words, have for the past decade been focused on expanding Iranian power at the expense of the US and the Iraqi and Syrian people.

This behavior of course is in line with Iran’s global strategy. From its support for Hamas to its control over Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, from developing a strategic alliance with Venezuela to expanding its presence throughout South and Central America, through its closely cultivated relationship with Russia, Iran’s every move involves expanding its power and influence at America’s expense.

And yet, despite this, the Obama administration has made strengthening the Iranian regime and appeasing it the centerpiece of its Middle East policy.

President Barack Obama told Jeffrey Goldberg in March that Iran is a rational actor that the US can do business with.

He said, “If you look at Iranian behavior, they are strategic, and they’re not impulsive. They have a worldview, and they see their interests, and they respond to costs and benefits.”

As Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry now perceive things, Iran opposes Islamic State, and therefore it will play a supportive role in the US campaign against Islamic State. Moreover, by participating in the campaign, Iran will demonstrate its good faith and so make it possible for the US to cut a deal with the mullahs that will legitimize their illicit uranium enrichment – because really, how big a threat can a country that opposes Islamic State be? As for Iran, it sees its interest as having the US destroy Islamic State, and if possible, having the US pay Iran for the privilege of fighting Iran’s war – against the foe Iran did so much to create.

And this brings us back to Steinitz’s gloomy assessment of the talks with Iran. Steinitz warned against the growing prospect of the US caving in to Iran’s nuclear demands as a payoff for Iranian support against Islamic State.

In his words, “Some people might think, ‘Let’s clean the table, let’s close the [nuclear] file,” in order to get Iran on board against Islamic State.

Unfortunately for Steinitz, and for the rest of the world, including the US, the Obama administration seems bent on proving him right.

Today the Iranian regime is weaker than it has been since it violently repressed the Green Revolution.

And that is why Rouhani is happy to be coming to New York.

He knows that now, as then, the Obama administration will save the regime. This, even as the mullahs advance their goal of becoming the hegemons of the Middle East at the US’s expense, and completing their nuclear weapons program, which will secure the regime for decades to come, and threaten America directly.

Caroline Glick is the author of The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East.

June 4, 2009
Obama quotes verse 5:32, omits 5:33
President Obama in his speech said " The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind."

I really find it odd that neither President Obama nor any of his advisors did not realize that the meaning of verse 5:32 is not clear until it is quoted together with verse 5:33 which follows it:

YUSUFALI: On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our messengers with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land


YUSUFALI: The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter;

Update: Andrew Bostom writes:

Immediately following the murderous acts of jihad terrorism committed on September 11, 2001, Ibn Warraq highlighted the tragic irony of many apologists quoting selectively from Qur'an 5:32-"whoso slays a soul . . . shall be as if he had slain mankind altogether; and whoso gives life to a soul, shall be as if he has given life to mankind altogether"- attempting to demonstrate that the Qur'ran disapproved of violence and killing.

Firstly, these wonderful sounding words come from a preexisting Jewish text (Mishnah, IV Division 5, "Thus was created a single man, to teach us that every person who loses a single soul, it shall be written about him as if he has lost the entire world, and every person who sustains a single soul, it shall be written about him as if he has sustained the entire world."

And apologists for Islam-just like President Obama-quote the Koranic words out of context. For the very next verse offers quite a different meaning from that of 5:32, which was "laid...down for the Israelites," as stated in the next verse, 5:33, continuing:

"...Our apostles brought them [the Jews] veritable proofs: yet it was not long before many of them committed great evils in the land. Those that make war against Allah and His apostle [Muhammad] and spread disorder shall be put to death or crucified or have their hands and feet cut off on alternate sides, or be banished from the country. (Qur'an 5:33)"

The supposedly noble sentiments of the first verse, taken from a Jewish source, are entirely undercut by the second verse, which becomes a bloodthirsty menacing by Muhammad of the Jews. (And as an aside the Muslim sources estimate Muhammad killed 24,000 Jews in his jihad campaigns against them). Far from abjuring violence, these verses aggressively insist that any who oppose the Muslim prophet will be killed, or crucified, mutilated, and banished.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Does moderate Islam exist?

Until the leading Islamic scholars provide a peaceful theology that clearly contradicts the violent views of the IS, the existence of a  “moderate Islam” must be questioned.

The guiding principle of the Islamic State (IS) is that Muslims must fight non-Muslims all over the world and offer them the following choices: Convert to Islam, pay a humiliating tax called “Jijya,” or be killed. This violent doctrine was the primary justification for the Islamic conquests by the early Muslims.

Following the latest in a long string of inhumane and barbaric attacks by the IS, who only offer these three options to non-Muslims, it becomes mandatory to ask whether this principle IS uses is Islamic or Un-Islamic.

In other words, can a young Muslim become more religious—and more obedient to Allah—without subscribing to this ancient brutality? Will he be able to find an approved Islamic theological source or interpretation that clearly contradicts this principle, or at least teaches it in a different way (i.e., contextualizing it in time and place)?

The sad answer is: No, he cannot.

Traditionally there are five sources for Islamic Law: the Koran, the Hadith of Prophet Mohamed (such as Sahih Al-Buchakry), the actions of the disciples of Mohamed (Sahaba), the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence, and the Tafseer (or Interpretations) of the Koran.

If a young Muslim were to do some research to examine whether what the IS is doing is in fact Islamic or Un-Islamic, he would find some shocking results.

The literal understanding of the Koran 9:29 can easily be used to justify what the IS is doing. “Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) - [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humiliated."

But perhaps this young Muslim will decide to see if the Hadith of Al-Buchakry may explain it differently. The following Sahih (authentic) Hadith in Al-Buchakry also supports the violent IS ideology: Sahih al-Bukhari 6924—Muhammad said: “I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: ‘La ilaha illallah’ (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah), and whoever said ‘No God other than Allah’ will save his property and his life from me."

Feeling uncomfortable with the literal interpretations of such texts, the young Sunni Muslim might try to find an answer in the actions of the Sahaba. Sadly, the Sahaba (Disciples of Mohamed) were the ones who first used these principles to justify the Islamic conquests and the subjugation of non-Muslims to Islam.

The fourth source for Islamic law is the four schools of Islamic Jurisprudence, namely: Al-Shafeii, Al-Hanbali, Al-Hanafi, and Al- Maleki. These four schools, without a single exception, support the principle that Muslims must fight non-Muslims and offer them the following choices: Convert to Islam, pay a humiliating tax called “Jijya,” or be killed.

The fifth, and last hope for a young Muslim to hold a less horrific view of Koran 9:29 is to find a Tafseer (an interpretation or commentary) that interprets it differently.

A basic search of almost ALL approved interpretations for the Koran supports the same violent conclusion. The 25 leading approved Koran Interpretations (commentaries)—that are usually used by Muslims to understand the Koran --unambiguously support the violent understanding of the verse.

So where might a young moderate Muslim find a non-violent understanding for such a verse?

Saying that “Islam is the religion of Peace” or condemning the IS as being “un-Islamic” without condemning the principle that Muslims must fight non-Muslims to subjugate them to Islam is not just hypocritical but also counterproductive as it hides the true cause of the problem and impedes the efforts to solve it.

Similarly, not calling the IS the Islamic State (to avoid using the word Islamic)—as suggested by some Islamic scholars—is not going to change the painful fact that the IS is using an approved and unchallenged principle of the Islamic theology. Such scholars need to work on providing peaceful alternatives to the current violent theology instead of asking the world not to call the IS the Islamic State.

In brief, there are certainly many moderate “Muslims.” Until the leading Islamic scholars provide a peaceful theology that clearly contradicts the violent views of the IS, however, the existence of a “moderate Islam” must be questioned. 
Important note: A modern and peaceful interpretation of Koran 9:29 is available at “Modern Interpretation of the Quran” [in Arabic] written by the author of this Op-Ed (Dr. T. HAMID).

The book (which could currently be the only available peaceful interpretation for the verse) has not been approved yet by the leading Islamic institutes but has gained more than two Million (2M) followers (Likes) mostly from young Arabic speaking Muslims since it was created in May 2013.

The writer is an Islamic thinker and reformer, and a one-time Islamic extremist from Egypt. He was a member of the terrorist organization JI with Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, who later became the second-in-command of al-Qaida. He is currently a senior fellow and chairman of the study of Islamic radicalism at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. 

Is Islam a “religion of peace?